Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Repairing the Panzers Vol 1 and 2 - Lukas Friedl

Title: Repairing the Panzers Vol 1 and 2
Author: Lukas Friedl
ISBN: 978-0-9841820-5-3
Publisher: Panzerwrecks
Pages: 256
Photos: 280 

The strength of these books lies not only with the copious numbers of outstanding photographs but also with the in-depth narrative surrounding the challenges and observations of both peace and wartime support. Coming from a small publishing house, this book is unique in that it focusses exclusively on the maintenance and logistics aspects of German Panzer operations (which is a refreshing departure from the hundreds of books focussing on operations and doctrine). 

The photographs are educational in and of themselves both from the visuals and the brief captions associated with them. The difference between field and garrison conditions is profound and the use of innovation under field conditions in order to overcome not only material but also environmental challenges is very educational. One learns to appreciate the sub-zero environment as opposed to the desert climate and the unique aspects of each as an example. 

Another aspect of these books, just as relevant and educational, is the narrative that accompanies the photographs. Drawing upon actual reports and unit histories, the author draws attention to the shortcomings in various pieces of equipment, support doctrine, training and development. As an example, the Germans strove to offset their material shortages by utilizing captured equipment. This, however, resulted in individual units having hundreds of varieties of equipment on their inventory thereby exacerbating spares and lubricant issues.  

He also includes extracts from official inspection reports outling issues such as deficiencies in driver training, poor break-in periods for engines and components, a lack of oversight in unit/crew maintenance practices and equipment shortfalls. Additionally, he draws attention via narrative as well as photography of the challenge of field recovery, especially given the difficulties of environment and size/weight of the German tanks. The standard heavy recovery vehicle for the Germans was the SdKfz 9 (18 T half-track vehicle). Recovery companies were always short of these critical vehicles and it would take, as an example, three to tow a Tiger and up to 5 to tow a Ferdinand tank. 

The author is to be commended for providing such a wealth of visual and narrative information in the form of these very high quality production books. Very highly recommended for those interested in a more support focussed aspect of World War 2 operations.

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